Goldsmith West is committed to helping you understand the important elements of your lemon law case. Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked lemon law questions.
“Lemon law” is actually a system of laws, which protects consumers who buy or lease products that require an unreasonable number of repairs, too much down time, or that are unsafe.
Lemon law requires the manufacturer of the defective product to buy the product back or replace it — whichever option the consumer prefers.
The law entitles you to reimbursement of all money paid for your lemon, including down payments, monthly finance payments, any trade-in value the dealership received, taxes and licensing fees, and your lease or finance contract.
In the case of a replacement, the manufacturer must offer you a “substantially identical” motor vehicle, and pay all taxes and licensing fees. In either case, you are also entitled to reimbursement for additional damages, such as towing and repair costs.
Attorneys are not needed in all cases. If the manufacturer promptly offers to repurchase or replace your lemon, at your option, the manufacturer has complied with the law.
However, lemon laws can be convoluted and highly specific, and manufacturers rarely want to admit the new vehicle or product you purchased is defective. When a manufacturer or dealership won’t honor your claim, having a legal team behind you makes you impossible to ignore.
We have over a decade of experience working as defense counsel and managing consumer affairs in-house at automobile manufacturers. We know what causes lemon law cases, how they are resolved, and what motivates automakers. Our firm uses this inside experience and knowledge, as well as a network of personal relationships inside and outside of the industry to your advantage.
While some law firms may require fees or other payment, Goldsmith West takes cases with no upfront fees and on a contingency basis. This means we seek to recover our costs and fees from the manufacturer that is being sued. Win or lose, you will owe us no fees out of pocket.
Yes. Lemon law applies to leases, as well as purchases.
Lemon law applies to any issue beginning during the warranty, whether it is a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, a ten-year powertrain warranty, a two-year Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) extension to the original warranty, etc.
Furthermore, the warranty period may be extended for an issue that began during the warranty, but which the dealer failed to repair.
As an enforcement mechanism, California lemon law allows the court discretion to award up to two times the value of your damages as a civil penalty, in lemon law cases where the manufacturer’s violation was “willful.” This would be paid in addition to your “actual” damages.
Many lemon law cases have an uncertain outcome, but are still settled by compromise. These often result in a cash payment, but may also include features such as an extended warranty, manufacturer-supervised repair, or a credit toward the future purchase of a vehicle, as well as anything that can be creatively worked out between both sides.
Your car may legally be a lemon based on as few as two repair attempts. California’s Lemon Law provides a legal presumption that the car is a lemon if any of the following occur within the first 18 months or 18k miles on the odometer, whichever comes first:
If your lemon law case meets any of these three standards, it is harder for the manufacturer to refute. However, you may have a valid claim even without these criteria.
While it doesn’t necessarily invalidate your lemon law case, it is best to present the vehicle for repair only to the manufacturer’s authorized dealerships. Doing otherwise may cause the defense to argue that an unauthorized repair facility’s actions contributed to the repair problem.
Repair orders are typically the most important pieces of evidence in a lemon law case. Any time you make a complaint, it is important to make sure that the vehicle is presented for a repair opportunity and a repair order is written.
In addition, it is important to ensure that repair orders accurately describe all of your complaints. Dealerships have been known to omit or inaccurately paraphrase complaints, which could affect your lemon law case.
It is best to keep copies of your repair records; however, if you have not kept copies, the dealership is required to produce them at your request.
Once we take your case, we do the heavy lifting. Your primary job is to give us all of the documents and facts. There will be additional participation needed if your case proceeds deep into litigation. Otherwise, having patience is your most important task.
(1) Case evaluation: We analyze your case and your desired outcomes.
(2) Negotiation/Litigation: We tailor a strategy — informally, or, if necessary, through the court — to educate the manufacturer about the merits of your claim.
(3) Resolution: Outcome is achieved by settlement, mediation, arbitration, or trial. We arrange payment of the proceeds and any other settlement or judgment details. Over 99% of cases end in settlement.